Herbal medicine is a clinical practice using naturally occurring plant material or plants which have little or no industrial processing. The World Health Organisation estimates that up to 80% of the world’s population uses herbal medicine for some part of primary health care. It is common to most cultures and societies throughout the world and has been used since the early days of humankind.
About 25% of pharmaceutical drugs prescribed worldwide are derived from plants. Examples include antibiotics; the cardiac stimulant digoxin from foxglove; salicylic acid, a precursor of aspirin, derived from willow bark; and antimalarials such as quinine from cinchona bark and lipid-lowering agents from a fungus.
Herbal medicine includes herbs, herbal materials and herbal preparations containing crude plant material (root, bark, or flower) or active constituents, that are used to treat disease and dysfunction and to promote health and well-being. Herbs are rich in a variety of compounds, including phenols and tannins which many have powerful antioxidant properties.
Currently, herbs are utilized for treatment of chronic and acute conditions such as cardiovascular disease, depression, inflammation, to boost the immune system, fertility issues, and skin complaints, to name but a few.